Starting at birth, the baby actively develops new and new motor skills, gradually developing muscles and coordination of movements. At about the same time, children learn:
- 1-3 months – keep your head, hold items;
- in 3−6 months – turn, lift the upper torso, sit;
- in 6−9 months – get up on all fours, stand by the support;
- in 9−12 months – to crawl on all fours, stand without support, walk with support;
- in 14−15 months – walk independently.
The age of mastering one or another skill is individual and depends on the build of the child, the ability to balance, muscle tone, motivation and help from the parents.
The baby can take the first “steps” in the first weeks after birth. If you take the baby under the arms and, holding, “put” on a firm support, he will lean on the legs. And if you tilt it slightly forward, it will make stepping movements. “Automatic gait of newborns” is not a real walk, as we understand it, but an unconditioned reflex, which fades away to about 1-2 months.
Nevertheless, the absence of this reflex may indicate hypoxia, intracranial injury, or other disorders and should not be ignored by the parents.
The kid develops the muscles of the legs while learning to roll over and sit down, and from about five months of age he will be happy to “jump” – pushing his legs off the adult’s knees, if held in his armpits.
Having started to sit independently and feel the advantages of the vertical position (good visibility, the handles are free to play), from about eight months the child will most likely try to get up, holding the side of the crib or furniture. And this means that in a few weeks he will start walking around the house, holding on to the furniture, occasionally dropping or sitting down, crawling to a new tower, getting up again and going further.
Soon he will begin to master the accompanying movements: he will try to sit down and raise a toy from a standing position.
Then the baby will begin to “run across”, taking several steps from one support to another. Gradually, these distances will increase, and by about 13–14 months it will go on its own.
During 2-3 months, walking may be unstable, but it is improved day by day. During this period, the child’s gait is very different from the way of walking in adults. When the baby is just beginning to master walking without support, in order to maintain balance, he spreads his feet wide, walks swaying, balances his arms, looks strictly straight.
At the same time, he literally walks on stiff legs – he commits, as it were, “kicks” his knees, tugging at his foot. This way of walking will continue for several years until the ligaments that control the movements of the knee are strengthened.
Gradually, as they master the skills, the feet come closer, he learns to maintain balance without the help of his hands, freely move them, reach for objects, carry a toy in his hands.
Gradually, the child begins to master the intricacies: at about 14–15 months he learns to bend, move back, carry a toy with him. By the age of one and a half to two years, the child begins to master the ascent and descent of the stairs (at the same time it is much more difficult to descend at the same time), jumping, throwing the ball with his foot.
Improving the walk will continue until about 3 years, but the most effective diagnosis and adjustment carried out in the first months of mastering the skill.
1) A child’s leg, when it is just starting to walk, is quite special: the foot is almost flat, the arch is not yet fully formed, there may be a noticeable fat pad on the foot. In addition, he moves in a special way – often gets up on his toes, runs, jumps.
Shoes should take into account these features (it is convenient if the sole is not quite solid, and can bend over the fingers so that it is comfortable to stand on the toes).
2) Not all children need orthopedic shoes. Such shoes are required for the correction of some problems, and not for prevention.
Only a doctor can recommend orthopedic shoes.
3) It is useful to walk barefoot, especially on an uneven surface – orthopedic or “hardening” tracks.
Violation of the formation of the skill of walking can occur for many reasons, so parents need to remember the importance of preventive examinations in the first year of a child’s life. A visit to a pediatrician, an orthopedic surgeon, a neurologist, an oculist, and taking all the necessary tests during a medical examination a year will help determine the likelihood of deviations and their cause.
- The child does not begin to walk until one and a half years, or the child has gone on for about a year, but walks very uncertainly and not for long, and for several months there has been no improvement in the skill. Most likely, the cause will be neurology: these can be the consequences of a trauma suffered (generic, craniocerebral), cerebral palsy, hereditary diseases, anomalies of the nervous system, leading to a delay in motor development. After examining and conducting a series of analyzes, a neurologist will be able to develop a rehabilitation course.
- The child often falls, constantly walks with an adult by the hand, does not want to walk independently. One of the reasons may be that the baby sees poorly – it is worth to be examined by an ophthalmologist.
- The child is afraid to walk on their own, although they are physically ready for this. Perhaps the problem in this case is purely psychological: the child may be very cautious in itself, or he once became very afraid of something, or severely hurt himself when he tried to go himself, and now hesitates to repeat this experiment. In any case, it is not necessary to scold him or rush him; here the support of parents is important, their benevolent attitude and desire to encourage him to walk and praise for success.
- The child has significant gait disturbances. The reason may not be diagnosed in time for subluxation of the hip joint: the orthopedic surgeon must examine the baby to rule out this option.
- The child constantly walks on socks. Possible cause – increased tone (spasm) of the gastrocnemius muscles. Most likely, you will need a massage, a course of special gymnastics, specialized shoes.
- The position of the child’s feet when walking is different from normal. Normally, the feet are parallel to each other, while walking, this stop position is maintained. When the baby begins to walk, a sufficiently large load on the feet occurs, and since the foot has not yet been completely formed, various deviations may occur.
Options for foot deformities:
- Varus coercion of the feet (the feet are turned to each other with toes, the baby “kosolapit”, the foot “littered” outside, the outer edge of the sole of the shoe is erased).
- Valgus installation of the feet (the feet are significantly spread to the sides, the foot is “littered” inward, the inner edge of the child’s shoes is erased more strongly).
- Equinovarus deformity of the feet (the child constantly walks on the toes, does not touch the floor with the heel and cannot even lower it to the floor, the vault looks like a bowl, the foot is “littered” outside).
- Equinovalgus deformity (similar to the previous one, but the foot is “littered” inside).
In case of any pathology of the foot, an improper redistribution of the load during standing and walking occurs, which can significantly progress with time, therefore, when deviations appear, it is necessary to begin correction.
The age at which the child begins to walk depends, among other things, on his temperament. It is believed that calmer, more cautious children prefer a proven way to move around – crawling for a long time and learn to do it incredibly cleverly and quickly, instead of starting to walk actively. Mobile, impulsive children begin, on the contrary, to walk quite early, quickly moving to a race.
Large, plump children can master walking a little slower than average weight children. They are just physically harder to lift and “carry” themselves.
How to help the child:
1) How to sit up and get up and go the child must himself; do not force it, do not put it constantly on the legs, if it is not ready for it yet.
2) Give your child the opportunity to move, encourage movement: do exercises with the child, do not limit his movements, leaving him to play in the crib or playpen. The more a child moves, the faster he learns new skills.
3) In order for the baby to learn how to get up and move around with a support, offer him some kind of stable piece of furniture – an ottoman or a small chair: he will be able to get up with their help, walk around or quietly move in front of him. After he has mastered this stage, you can offer him a large and safe toy on wheels (trolley or toy car), so that the child can walk behind it, holding the handles.
4) You can help your child master the first steps:
- put it between your legs and, leading both hands, sometimes release one or the other;
- sit in front of the baby on his knees, stretch both hands towards him and first take him by the handles and lead him to him, and then simply stretch his arms towards him, encourage, call and invite him to break away from the support and walk a few steps towards you.
But the “walker” and “jumpers” will not help the child quickly or better learn how to walk. You need to perceive them as an attraction – the ability to take the baby for a few minutes and thereby make life easier for the mother.
You can start using them only after the child has started to sit firmly with a straight back. It is best to consult with your doctor before you buy to avoid spinal curvature.
In general, such devices can be used for 3-5 minutes, a maximum of 2-3 times a day.
Sometimes parents use the so-called “reins”, supporting the child during the walk. This is a subject that helps parents to strain their backs less, not to bend constantly to support the baby. To “drive” a child in this way makes sense on an asphalt path, the fall of which will be painful for the baby.
If the child walks on the grass, it is better to give him the opportunity to move independently, learn to fall and get up again.